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Essay by   •  August 22, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  3,209 Words (13 Pages)  •  2,947 Views

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A couple that had been married for only two years was in a terrible car accident. The wife walked away with a few cuts and bruises. The husband, however was unconscious when the paramedics arrived. He went into a coma shortly after arriving at the nearby hospital. He came out of the coma but was never to be the same again. It turns out that when he was in the accident he had severe head trauma, and would be a vegetable the rest of his life. He could not take part in the reproduction of children. The wife is now distraught because they will never have children together. She heard about the possibility of cloning and believes that it is the only way that she will ever have children. Is it so?


The ethics of human cloning has become a great issue in the past few years. The advocates for both sides of the issue have many reasons to clone or not to clone. This is an attempt to explore the pros and cons of human cloning and to provide enough information of both sides of the arguments in order for the reader to make their own informed decision on whether human cloning is ethical or not. Cloning will first be defined. Then a brief explanation of why questions concerning cloning humans have arisen will be presented. Some things cannot be known for sure unless it is tested, i.e., human cloning is allowed. Followed by that, a discussion of the facts and opinions that support cloning will be presented and then the same against cloning. Please remember that not all of this has proven true nor is able to be proven yet, but has simply been argued as a scientific hypothesis. Finally, my own personal opinion will be stated.

Defining Human Cloning

When speaking of human cloning, what is meant? Different groups and organizations define it differently. To use a specific definition, the American Medical Association (AMA) defined cloning as "the production of genetically identical organisms via somatic cell nuclear transfer. 'Somatic cell nuclear transfer' refers to the process which the nucleus of a somatic cell of an existing organism is transferred into an oocyte from which the nucleus has been removed" (Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs 1). In other words, cloning is the method of produce a baby that has the same genes as its parent. You take an egg and remove its nucleus, which contains the DNA/genes. Then you take the DNA from an adult cell and insert it into the egg, either by fusing the adult cell with the enucleated egg, or by a sophisticated nuclear transfer. You then stimulate the reconstructed egg electrically or chemically and try to make it start to divide and become an embryo. You then use the same process to implant the egg into a surrogate mother that you would use with artificial insemination. (Eibert)

However, many groups have used a broader definition of cloning. They include the production of tissues and organs through growing cells or tissues in cultures along with the actual producing of embryos to be born. This is done with the use of stem cells. When an egg is fertilized and begins to divide, the cells are all alike. As the cells divide, certain cells differentiate and become the stem cells that produce certain tissue and then organs. Research in this very active. There is still much for scientists to learn about cell differentiation and how it works. To a clone an organ, a stem cell must be produced and then used to a clone that specific organ. For the sake of this paper, both definitions will be used in order to cover all opinions.

One must understand that cloning does not produce an exact copy of the person being cloned. What cloning does, is that it copies the DNA/genes of the person and creates a duplicate genetically. The person will not be a Xerox copy. He or she will grow up in a different environment than the clone, with different experiences and different opportunities. Genetics does not wholly define a person and the personality.

How It All Started

In February 1997, when embryologist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at Roslin Institute in Scotland were able to clone a lamb, named Dolly, the world was introduced to a new possibility and will never be the same again (Nash). Before this, cloning was thought to be impossible, but now there is living proof that the technology and knowledge to clone animals exist. Questions began to arise within governments and scientific organizations and they began to respond. Are humans next? Is it possible to use this procedure to clone humans also? Would anyone actually try? What can we learn if we clone humans? How will this affect the world? These are only a few of the questions that have surfaced and need answered. A whole new concept in ethics was created when the birth of Dolly was announced.

There are a great number of possible medical benefits and disadvantages to cloning and its technology. They include the following:

Potential Medical Benefits

* The possibility that through cloning technology we will learn to renew activity of damaged cells by growing new cells and replacing them.

* The capability to create humans with identical genetic makeup to act as organ donors for each other, i.e., kidney and bone marrow transplants.

* The benefit of studying cell differentiation at the same time that cloning is studied and developed.

* Sterile couples will be able to have offspring will have either the mother's or father's genetic pattern.

Potential Harms and Disadvantages

* The possibility of compromising individualities.

* Loss of genetic variation.

* A "black market" of fetuses may arise from desirable donors that will want to be able to clone themselves, i.e., movie stars, athletes, and others.

* Technology is not well developed. It has a low fertility rate. In cloning Dolly, 277 eggs were used, 30 started to divide, nine induced pregnancy, and only one survived to term (Nash).

* Clones may be treated as second-class citizens.

* Unknown psychosocial harms with impacts on the family and society.

The Governments Make a Move




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